I quit one of my two jobs a month ago, the one with stable income. It feels like the single largest leap of faith I have ever taken in my life. I left that job to develop my own business—a choice that is exciting, exhilarating, freeing and… terrifying. I didn’t wait until the next new position solidified itself, but left my old one to make up the new one. Every day is a little up or a little down. The other night, when I was feeling more than a little “down” I caught myself feeling frustrated and tense about income prospects, around how my partner and I are shaping our newlywedded future together while I navigate these unstable waters. I had a meltdown. Life was feeling heavier and heavier with every passing moment. He astutely asked me what was wrong.
"What if I am not successful? What if I don’t make enough money?" And this was the hardest part for me to say out loud as anxiety gripped my chest and a few tears sputtered out, "I don’t want to be a burden on you."
He held me close. "What is the worst case scenario?”
“I-I-I-I don’t know,” the emotions and tears were fully flowing. He held me close and laid out our worst case scenario game plan, and it really isn’t that bad. Not shabby at all and definitely nothing near the emotional armegeddon that I feared.
Then he asked if I had gotten caught in a sneaky spiral of doom? I sniffled, “Yes, I think I did.” There is no bottom to the infinite spiral downwards when things are bad. In this moment, I realized I had been in this sneaky spiral like Alice falling down the rabbit hole for many month -- fear and anxiety had trapped me in a job that wasn’t working and kept me from pursuing my dreams.
My mom coined this phrase, sneaky spiral of doom, when my sister was in elementary scool. She was driven, focused, confident at a very young age. Many years her senior, I was always inspired and surprised at her level of perfectionism and how well she did in school. The flipside, would be an emotionally fraught breakdown triggered by the smallest glitch: “My pencil just broke and I can’t find another one and I lost my sharpener; so I won’t be able to finish my homework; I am going to flunk this class; I’ll fail high school; Ill never get into college; Ill never find a job. I am going to die ALL alone.” It was completely honest, completely overwhelming and encompassing and simultaneously sad and funny to observe. You could give her a well-sharpened pencil and her emotional state would switch on a dime.
Why is it when one thing, big or little goes wrong the whole world can feel like it is spinning down the tubes?